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Since its emergence in 2012, the genome editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 and its scientific use have rapidly expanded globally within a very short period of time. The technique consists of using an RNA guide molecule to bind to complementary DNA sequences, which simultaneously recruits the endonuclease Cas9 to introduce double-stranded breaks in the target DNA. The resulting double-stranded break is then repaired, allowing modification or removal of specific DNA bases. The technique has gained momentum in the laboratory because it is cheap, quick, and easy to use. Moreover, it is also being applied in vivo to generate more complex animal model systems. Such use of genome editing has proven to be highly effective and warrants a potential therapy for both genetic and non-genetic diseases. Although genome editing has the potential to be a transformative therapy for patients it is still in its infancy. Consequently, the legal and ethical frameworks are yet to be fully discussed and will be an increasingly important topic as the technology moves towards more contentious issues such as modification of the germline. Here, we review a number of scientific and ethical issues which may potentially influence the development of both the technology and its use in the clinical setting.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Yale J Biol Med

Publication Date

12/2017

Volume

90

Pages

625 - 634

Keywords

CRISPR, Cas9, bioethics, genome editing